It is somewhat odd, my kids and other young people tend to look at me and perceive I come from this time of petticoats and sneak peeks at forbidden ankles. Obviously in my day, people were going to penny arcades to view photos of French dancing-girls, so naturally, being the proper lady that I am, I know absolutely nothing about well, much of anything.
The complete disconnect there throws me sometimes and my mouth simply falls open. I assure you such a time never really existed, except perhaps in my own mind somewhere. Regardless, if such an era ever existed at all, it would have been in my great grandma’s day. I actually come from the 1960’s, people. We invented the era of free love, the mini skirt, and hundreds of topless women in the park with the word “peace” written across their chests.
Well actually I was a child in the 60’s, so “we” didn’t invent anything, but I came into consciousness in the 1960’s, looked about at the free love generation and recoiled in horror. Perhaps I even withdrew into my dream world of penny arcades and petticoats, but the fact remains, there is nothing new under the sun that I have not already seen.
So it is with some bafflement that I will say something rather innocent to one of my children and completely embarrass them, compel them to say things like, “Mom, be quiet. We don’t speak of things like that anymore. We don’t think that way. It’s a different era.” Sheesh, as if I am a doddering old fool.
The subject at hand was a gal who walked by wearing a bright red thong…. on the outside of her jeans. The politically correct response today is to look away politely, while silently repeating the mantra narrative to yourself, women are free to dress anyway they want and a candy apple red thong prominently displayed on the outside has absolutely no sexual connotations. Than you pat yourself on the back for your enlightened mindset.
How maddening it all is! Call me crazy, but my little feminine heart would just sink if I went down the street lit up like a fire truck and nobody bothered to even notice I was making a statement of some sort. Worse yet, they all looked away politely as if wearing something so suggestive on the outside of your clothing means absolutely nothing at all. That gal was desperate for attention, attention she is now forbidden to receive…. and we are now forbidden to give.
I now think of her as the Woman in the Thong Erased, invisible, trapped behind the world’s perpetual seran wrap, screaming to be heard, but rendered silent by our politically correct social mores. But who has silenced her?
My kids think I have some kind of old fashioned perception of modesty or some knee jerk response to sexuality or something but it is not that at all, it is a much larger problem, it is the way women’s bodies somehow became a battleground, a political statement, the field where the war is actually being fought. Our bodies weaponized, flaunted and used in perpetual rebellion against…? Against what?!
It was so much easier when all the topless women actually wrote the words right on their chest, “peace,” “stop war,” “free love” so at least you had some clue as to what was going on.
Today it is more like, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. No offense to Dylan Thomas, but I never cared much for his poem and today it haunts me even more. What precisely are we raging against? Who cares? Just rage. Rebel. Occupy. Demonstrate. Wear a thong on the outside, it sends a message. But what is the message??
In the ultimate twist of irony, they like to look at me and say, you just don’t understand what it was really like Before. And yet you, your little 20 something self does? How does that even work? And who told you these things anyway?
I love getting older, I really do, I love the wisdom, the freedom, the not caring so much about what others think, but one thing was not prepared for, did not see coming, was how quickly we are often tossed aside, disqualified, dismissed. I can honestly say I did not do that as young person, I deliberately sought out the older ones and their stories now live within me.
Stories of forbidden ankles, penny arcades, and petticoats, but stories about so much more, about the nature of people, the nature of our ownselves, our shared and common humanity that transcends all silly notions of eras, and fashion, and fads.